80 Foreign Missions excluded from 2019 budget

Only 30 of the 110 foreign missions will be considered for budgetary allocations in the 2019 fiscal year.
Mustapha Suleiman, permanent secretary of the ministry of foreign affairs, disclosed this while defending the ministry’s budget before the senate committee on foreign affairs.
He said there was a 64 percent cut on the capital votes proposed for the missions in the 2019 budget, when compared to the N11.3 billion earmarked in 2018.
According to him, the N4.1 billion was proposed for the missions for 2019 can only cover 30 missions critically in need of funding.
“As a result of this, only 30 missions could be considered out of 110 missions for purchase of representational car, renovation/completion of ongoing projects,” he told the committee.
Monsurat Sunmonu, chairman of the committee, wondered why the ministry had such meagre budget in spite of the challenges of Nigerian missions abroad, while expressing concern over their functionality.
The welfare of Nigerian diplomats has been a source of concern. There have been cases when diplomatic officials were unable to pay utility bills, rent or their children’s school fees.
In 2017, officials of the Nigerian embassy in the US protested the non-payment of their salaries for three months.
Shehu Sani, vice-chairman of the senate committee on foreign affairs, has accused the federal government of treating the embassies abroad with lack of seriousness.
Sani said this when the ministry of foreign affairs appeared before the committee to defend its budget.
He said many of the nation’s embassies abroad were in a sorry state, lamenting over how the poor condition of the toilet in Nigerian mission in Moscow, Russia.
“No responsible nation that has clear cut development- driven and visionary foreign policy will deliberately under-fund her foreign missions,” the senator said.
“For the past four years this committee has been over-sighting this ministry in terms of budgetary appropriations and other assistance, no significance progress can be said to have been made .
“Most of our missions are in sorry state by not being able to pay their electricity or water bills and even the nation’s diplomats too are in a state of hunger and indebtedness based on information gathered or practical experience witnessed.
“The so-called diplomats cannot pay their children school fees, and the worst of it is the toilet of the Nigerian embassy in Moscow, Russia, is stinking due to non-functionality of its flusher, embarrassingly making anybody that uses it to flush it with bucket of water fetched from adjoining embassy.
“It is saddening that from all indications and based on budgetary proposals tabled before this committee, government is not making any serious attempt in tackling the global ridicule that smaller countries like Cuba, and Jamaica, are not facing.”

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